Google penalties are a nightmare for webmasters, marketers and business owners alike, with these silent traffic killers having the ability to send your business from profitable to just getting by in only one night.
However, if you have been hit with a Google penalty, you are far from alone. In fact, there are many high-profile businesses that have been penalized by Google over the years, including Forbes, BMW, Mozilla and Rap Genius, with these big brands, who should have known better, being issued a penalty for reasons including:
- Spammy SEO
- User generated spam
- Selling links
- Buying links
Whether you have inadvertently carried out an action that has been seen unfavorably by Google, or even if you have been trying to be sneaky and pull the wool over this search engine’s eyes, you now need to know how you can reverse your Google Penalty so that you can once again rise in the ranks of Google.
Within this article, you will learn:
- The types of Google penalties
- The key removal actions you can take to fix your penalty
- Tips on how to minimize your risk of Google penalties in the future
What are the types of Google penalties you can be issued with?
There are two main types of Google penalties: Manual penalties and Algorithmic penalties.
Both of the above penalties are bad news for your SEO ranking, but one is easily identifiable and the other is a bit more tricky to pinpoint.
If you are hit with a manual penalty from Google, luckily, you can find out about it very quickly and easily. All you need to do is log into Google Search Console and check your messages. If you have been penalized, you should have a message which details exactly what you have done wrong.
Manual penalties are often issued to websites that have purposely carried out an action that goes against Google guidelines, but it is possible to receive a manual penalty without meaning to.
Common manual penalties being for:
- User generated spam
- Spammy free hosts
- Cloaked images
- Hacked site
- Unnatural links
- Thin/duplicate content
If you suspect you have been hit with a Google penalty, but you don’t have any manual actions on SC, then you may have an algorithmic penalty.
Put simply, Google creates different algorithms (constantly) to detect spam and other key violations that a site may be carrying out.
You can identify an algorithmic penalty by using Google Analytics or Google Search Console to see when exactly your organic traffic suddenly dropped; it should be fairly easy to identify when you were issued with the penalty.
The most common Google algorithms are the Panda Algorithm (focused on content quality) that was released in 2011 and the Penguin Algorithm (focused on backlinks) that was first released in 2012. In the last years there has been a lot of activity, especially by the end of 2019 with the September Core Update and and early 2020 with the January Core Update.
How can I remove a Google penalty?
First things first, it can take some time to remove a Google penalty, so it is a good idea to try and find other ways to quickly increase traffic to your site. Focus on channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to drive people to your website. You should also look into how to optimise your website so that your website visitors can be more successful when visiting your site.
With damage limitation taken care of, you can now carry out the key actions to ensure that your Google penalty gets removed asap.
1. Utilize Disavow
The Disavow tool is part of Google Search Console and allows you to discount the value of an inbound link, which is crucial if you want to remove a link penalty that has been caused by bad backlinks.
It is actually fairly simply; all you need to do is create a disavow file and add in all the bad links that you have found and then submit the file to Google’s Disavow Links Tool.
2. Improve your content
You may be sick to death of hearing this, but content really is king. If you want to be ranked highly by Google and avoid Google penalties, then you need to focus on providing engaging, consistent and up to date content.
Not only do you need to ensure that your content is delivering users with what they want, but you also need to make sure that you utilize keywords and that your content is properly formatted.
To ensure your content is not penalized you should:
- ‘Noindex’ any thin content (that being content with little or no value)
- Re-write any low value pages
- Implement permanent (301) redirects to the most relevant pages
- Remove any pages that are no longer needed
3. Ensure your site adheres to recent Google guidelines
It is always a good idea to be informed and up to date on Google’s most recent guidelines so that you know what you should and should not be doing when it comes to your website.
Then, if you find any way in which you are deviating from the rules, you can easily amend them and have your Google penalty lifted.
4. You can now submit a reconsideration request
Once you are sure that you have cleaned up and improved upon your site, you can now ask Google to review your site again. This can be done via Google Search Console.
How can I avoid further Google penalties?
There are several steps that you can take to try and stop your site being hit with a Google penalty, although it is worth noting that none of these are full proof solutions.
- Don’t buy links and stay away from link schemes. Instead, focus on natural links.
- Do not overuse keywords. Instead, use them appropriately and in a natural-sounding way.
- Do not duplicate content. Focus on providing high quality and original content.
- Do not over-clutter your site with ads. Instead, ensure that users can easily navigate your page, and that is it laid out effectively. A digital marketing agency can help you choose the right display ads for your site.
- Do not hide content. Google will find out if you are trying to trick them into ranking you higher. Always be transparent with your site.
- Offer great customer service. Google wants their users to trust them, so will only rank your site highly if you too are trusted by your users.
- Do not write URLs purely for SEO. URLs should be written with the user in mind in order to make their experience easier.
- Do not use spammy links. These are instantly identified by Google, and you will be issued with a penalty.
- Failure to use outbound links. Outbound links to authoritative and trusted sites are key in keeping Google happy.
- Monitor your inbound links. If a spam site links to your site, Google will pick up on this and start to investigate your site further.
- Do not over-use anchor text. Although important, you should ensure that they are natural and beneficial to the users.
As explained previously, it is near impossible to prevent your site from being issued with a Google penalty at some point during its existence. That being said, if you follow Google guidelines, regularly check and update your site and always have the users’ best interests at heart, then you should able to avoid being hit too often, as well as be able to quickly identify and remove any penalties issued.